One of the key speakers at Flick the Switch next Wednesday, Stiebel Eltron’s Glenn Day, will tackle the potential of heat pumps to pave the way to net zero. But it’s not easy: the hurdles are tough, especially for existing buildings. Fellow panellists and audience will be invited to all collaborate on the best possible solutions. The results will form the backbone of an ebook to help guide the industry forward on this most urgent of tasks.

When it comes to electrifying buildings there’s no doubt that heat pumps will play a starring role. And when paired with renewables, these technologies are core to the net zero transition.

Australians are fast catching on to this global trend for  heating and cooling but according to Glenn Day, the director national sales & public affairs of energy technology manufacturer Steibel Eltron, there are still barriers to overcome if we’re to reap the full rewards.

Jump these hurdles and the overall costs can be brought right down, he says.

Day will canvass the many opportunities for heating and cooling options at The Fifth Estate’s Flick the Switch! virtual conference next Wednesday about transitioning to all electric buildings and cities.

The session Day will speak at, like others, will feature provocations that the panellist and audience will be free to challenge and contest.

The point of the event is discovery, to tease out the best ideas to create net zero, fossil fuel-free buildings and cities. Starting with a hypothetical precinct.

With heat pumps, Day says existing building regulation can inadvertently nudge people away from heat pumps. How can this be changed? What are the benefits and opportunities of doing so, and how can the necessary updates be fast tracked?

Then there’s the issue of the states.

Each state and territory has its own set of rules and regulations. How does the industry work with this to plan ahead when taking a building from design to completion can mean five years?

If the National Construction Code incorporated heat pumps there would be real progress, Day says.

And if the state based rules and regulations could be updated, there’s a view that the technology could be much more cost effective.

Perhaps Day is right, that it’s a classic case of of regulators struggling to keep up with rapidly developing technology. But rushing regulation also has its dangers, and needs to strike the right balance between protections and commercial imperatives.

An exciting development is that heat pumps may soon play a part in the “two sided” grid, Day says.

How this affects regulators who are still working on how to encourage demand management capabilities will be a fascinating topic of conversation.

The challenge of existing buildings

Many of the challenges are relatively straight forward to deal with in new buildings.

But it’s how to tackle existing buildings that have experts pulling out all stops on creativity and determination. Our panellists from Mirvac and GPT, Dave Palin and Steve Ford, will have plenty to contribute on this.

A lot of issues boil down to how much space is in an existing building.

And what do you do when there’s increasing demand for hot water such as in buildings that have people lining up to use showers in end of trip facilities?

There are workarounds. And Day has good suggestions.

Get your tickets here

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  1. I’d really like to see is heat-pump options for replacing the big gas boilers in the HVAC & Air handling unit spaces.